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bikes and beauty I: The Tour today

July 12, 2005

So yes drama today in the Tour. It was Mr. Armstrong’s day, as he loves it to be, the perfect sort of mountain day.
The uphill finish promised an exciting day. At the base of the final climb there was a breakaway of seven riders, the peleton round about five minutes back, and a few stragglers. As they began climbing the questions raged. Did Armstrong have it this year? Who might attack and challenge him? Could Discovery, which had showed weakness on Saturday, stand up and give Lance the support he needed?
The third question was answered very quickly. As the peleton broke up, Discovery rode to the front, and kept seven riders there for a significant amount of time, loosing riders off the back of the pack constantly on the lower slopes. One by one they spun off the lead, spent, leaving the climbing to their teammates. Eventually it got down to Lance, Hincape, and one other Discovery rider in a group of about fifteen. They’d caught three or four of the lead riders, with the others closing in. T-Moble looked strong, though, with Ullrich, Vino, and Kloden in the group. Basso was also there, and it looked like a day ripe with challenges.
It looked that way, but it wasn’t.
Hincape took the lead and began cranking the pace, with Armstrong at his wheel. One by one riders fell off the back, and it wasn’t just the nobodies. Vino feel off when there were about ten left. Ullrich left soon after, with Kloden already gone. Suddenly Basso was the only contender left with Armstrong, the rest of Discovery long gone, and only three other riders with them, and then even Basso cracked.
Here we were on the first real mountain stage, and every major competitor to Armstrong’s seventh win had been bested. Left was Rassmusen, Valverde, and Mancebo, able riders all, but not GC contenders. It ended up with Valverde winning the sprint, and Armstrong in second, with a minute over Basso, the nearest contender. Fantastic fantastic day of racing!

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